Q: You headed Chrysler in the early eighties and turned the company around during a financial crisis that nearly killed it. Did you keep any souvenirs in your garage?
A: I have a Viper and one of the last wooden K cars, a convertible. Thatís all I kepta Woodie and a Viper.
Q: The Viperís so you can race on Sunset Boulevard, right?
A: Well, most of the time I have a driver. But when I drive, I have a Chrysler 300. Nice car. A fully loaded luxury car for $35,000. Thatís a good value.
Q: Why just those wheels? Nothing new-fangled?
A: Iím studying hybrids. Thatís the wave of the future. Thatís almost ready. Everything thatís going on in the world is oil.
Q: Even though Chryslerís just been sold by a German company to a private-equity group, are you still loyal to the Big Three?
A: Yeah, but I donít know what the future holds. If the U.S. automakers donít get some big concessions [from the unions] soon, the industry will die, little by little.
Q: Youíve sat across the table from any number of union leaderseven Jimmy Hoffa. Any idea what happened to him?
A: I was in the restaurant where he got abducted from on the day it happened. They never found his body, but they were pouring all that concrete for that new highway right through the area where he got abducted. I always speculated that it would be a natural place to dump somebody.
Q: Jack Nicholson played Hoffa a while backmaybe he knows something.
A: I once went to a party Jack Nicholson was at, at a friend of mineís house in Beverly Hills. I was wearing my brown-and-white saddle shoes, and he had black-and-white. So even before we got to know each other, I said, ďI like your shoes!Ē He said, ďI like yours, too.Ē
Q: Your new book, Where Have All the Leaders Gone?, is full of good business sense. Whatís the most important advice youíve gotten?
A: My first boss at Ford, Charlie Beacham, said, ďIf you donít know a dollop of horseshit from a dollop of vanilla ice cream, youíve got a problem. Youíll never figure it out.Ē And my father would say, ďJust donít worry about day-to-day. Live life to the fullest every day. The sunís going to come outalways does.Ē
Q: In the Vietnam War documentary The Fog of War, your old boss Robert McNamara, who became the secretary of defense, seems like a poignant, broken figure.
A: He was a brilliant guyhead of the World Bank, president of Fordbut heíll always be remembered as the guy who screwed up Vietnam.
Q: People who recall your endorsement of President Bush might presume you were a Texas-style Republican who laughed through the oil crisis.
A: I campaigned for George because I knew his mother and dad for 30 years, and I figured he was from pretty good stock. But Jeb was being groomed toothey got the wrong kid. Thereís something wrong philosophically with how Bushís brain worksI feel sorry for him. I used to think Gore was nuts in his worrying about global warming, but he was ahead of his time.